Licensee and Wine & Spirits Merchant
James Foan (also recorded as Fone) was born in Yeovil in 1811, the son of Thomas Fone (1780-1823) and Sarah née Palmer (1774-1834). James was baptised at St John's church on 10 February 1811. Thomas and Sarah had five children; Mariane (b1804), Charles (b1808), James, Thomas (b1813) and George (b1816).
Little is known of James' early life but on 30 January 1832, at St John's church, he married Rhoda Prowles (1808-1870, also recorded as Prools), the daughter of William and Amelia Prowles of Closworth. James and Rhoda were to have ten children; Frederick (b1833), Thomas (b1835), Alfred (b1836), Mary Jane (b1838), Eliza (1840-1844), Eliza (b1845), Walter (b1848), Georgina (1850-1918), Edwin James (b1852) and William Henry (1854-1873). In 1833, when their first child Frederick was born, they were living in Back Street (today's South Street).
Following the death of James Cayme the Elder, legal squabbles involving two Yeovil inns, the Full Moon Inn in Wine Street, owned by Cayme, and the Seven Stars Inn in the Borough, went on from 1835 until 1838. It is most likely that the Cayme property, the Full Moon, was successful in the case since the Seven Stars ceased trading at this time and a different Seven Stars Inn opened in Bond Street in 1835. Strangely, James Foan was the first licensee of the Bond Street Seven Stars but by 1841 he was the licensee of the Full Moon - coincidence? or something to do with the legal case?
James Foan was listed in Robson's Directory in 1839, repeated in the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840, as the licensee of the Seven Stars Inn, a beerhouse in Bond Street. In the 1841 census he was noted as licensee of the Full Moon in Wine Street, where he was listed as an inn keeper, with his wife, Rhoda, and three young children; Frederick, Mary and Eliza. He was also listed in the 1842 edition of Pigot's Directory as licensee of the Full Moon.
In June 1846 James purchased the premises and stock-in-trade of the late James Male, the Wine Vaults Tavern and advertised the fact in the 27 June 1846 edition of the Western Flying Post (see Gallery). From 1850 onwards he regularly appeared in trade directories as the licensee of the Wine Vaults and also as a Wine & Spirits Merchant.
The animation at left shows the development of the Grope Lane / Wine Street premises from 1800 through 1880.
It is not known for sure if the Wine Vaults operated before the 1820's.
In the 1851 census James Foan was described as a wine & spirit merchant living with Rhoda, five of their children (Fred, Mary, Eliza, Walter and Georgina) and three servants at the Wine Vaults.
In January 1858 James took his son Frederick (known as Fred) as a partner in the business which he announced in the 26 January 1858 edition of the Western Flying Press (see Gallery).
In the 1861 census James and Rhoda, with children Eliza, Walter, Georgina, Edwin and William and two servants were listed in the Wine Vaults and James was listed once again as a wine & spirit merchant.
James Foan died on 14 February 1864 at home at the Wine Vaults and his obituary was published in the 16 February 1864 edition of the Western Flying Press. He was aged 53. After his death his eldest don, Frederick, carried on the business.
The record of James' baptism at St John's church.
James purchased the premises and stock-in-trade of the late James Male, the Wine Vaults Tavern, and advertised the fact in the 27 June 1846 edition of the Western Flying Post.
The advertisement in the 26 January 1858 edition of the Western Flying Press in which James announced that his son Frederick was to become a partner in the business.
James Foan's obituary from the 16 February 1864 edition of the Western Flying Press.
Courtesy of Chris Rendell
The Wine Vaults photographed in 1989.
Courtesy of Tony Rendell
A cider jug from the time Frederick Foan had taken over his father's Wine & Spirit Merchant's business in the Wine Vaults, Wine Street.